News Corp., Google reach deal on payments for journalism

Ruben Fields
February 18, 2021

Google a year ago said it would start licensing "high-quality content" from publishers around the world as part of a $1bn initiative.

As part of the agreement, the companies will develop a subscription platform and will share advertising revenue through Google's ad technology services.

Google has signed a $30 million deal licensing deal with Australia's Nine Entertainment.

While Google has struck several deals with publishers in recent days, Easton argued that Facebook has a fundamentally different relationship with news.

William Easton, managing director at Facebook Australia & New Zealand, wrote on the company's website on Wednesday: "In response to Australia's proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and global news content".

Facebook is going news-free in Australia as the country is steps away from forcing it to pay for the news shared on its platform.

Australia's government said on Tuesday it will amend draft laws that would make Google and Facebook pay for news to clarify that publishers would be paid in lump sums rather than per click on news article links.

"We have been negotiating with Facebook in good faith and we remain willing to do a deal with them that provides a mutually beneficial outcome and ensures quality information is available to all Australians on their platform".

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called negotiations between Google and Australia's biggest publishers "a world first" for rewarding original journalism.

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Nine said in a statement it was having "constructive discussions" with Google and Facebook.

Under its new rules, Facebook said Australian users would not be able read or share news content on the platform, while Australian news publishers would be restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook pages.

Easton said the public would ask why the platforms were responding differently to the proposed law that would create an arbitration panel to set a price for news in cases where the platforms and news businesses failed to agree.

The two companies are still at loggerheads over a controversial proposed new law in Mr Murdoch's home country of Australia, which would require internet platforms pay big media firms whenever links to publishers' stories appeared in search results or other services.

While they have both collectively earmarked billions to help publishers worldwide adapt to the new digital landscape, Facebook has tried to pull back from serving up news content to its users, in part because of the polarization around the recent US election in which online content, often from media organizations, may have inflamed tensions.

The study concluded that this posed a threat to Australia's print media.

While Australia's news market is substantially smaller than the us, tech companies and lawmakers are carefully watching the proposal. There's already speculation that other countries are eyeing Australia and may one day make similar plays.

The New York-listed company branded it a "historic multi-year partnership", with Google offering "significant payments" in exchange for news. It's entered into commercial deals with media companies in the United Kingdom, for example. That push has become more urgent as Google and Facebook have taken a larger share of the digital advertising market, squeezing news outlets that depend on that revenue to support their journalism.

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